Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.
The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction.
Rose at 6:30 A.M. to head to Ottawa. After a hearty breakfast of porridge with canned milk and tea, we are off once again. It is another of those lovely and hot July mornings. We had made advance arrangements to meet our wagon and equipment in Lansdowne Park along the canal just outside Ottawa. We have only 16 more miles to go to Ottawa. We agreed to meet John Brady at 10:00.
The water is still and quite warm. Along this part of the canal, the banks are quite high and steep. To our immediate right a man and his boy and dog are running along the banks, waving to us.
A lot of the cottages here have their own swimming pools.
We have just passed the Ottawa Sea Scout Den on our left. We had the opportunity to stay here the previous nite but we decided not to. The lock was not on the door, so they must have left it open for us.
The boys are starting to get wound up as we can see the outskirts of the city in the distance. Now, they are paddling like mad as they have been informed that when they arrive in the Capital, the rest of the day is theirs to do what they want to do.
They all get along real well together now. Prior to the trip they were not as close to each other as they are now. They are all deeply concerned about one another all the time (more interested in their fellow Venturers) which is terrific.
We have now pulled up to the lock and we are informed by the lockmaster that we are just a stone’s throw from our objective. As we round the bend, we see the tall buildings ahead. Civilization is upon us once more. The canal is getting narrower, all built on the sides with cement. People are strolling along the canal, stopping to talk to us.
We are all bunched together like sardines in a tin as it is a race to see who arrives first. We are now coming under a high bridge which is under construction. The men looked bewildered as they see us coming, all 10 canoes strong. They stop work to ask us various questions such as: Why do we wear buckskin clothing? Where is Whitby? and many more.
They say they find it hard to believe we have paddled over 350 miles in these canoes.
We now see very clearly Lansdowne Park. It is a fairly large park on our left. The city traffic is really moving on both sides of the canal and it is here we decide to stop and wait for John as he is nowhere in sight.
The Ottawa Queen sightseeing boat passes us and the waves are really rocking our canoes which are smashing against the sides of the canal. The captain blows his whistle and the crowd on board are waving.
It is precisely 10:00 A.M. and still no Brady. So everyone decides to get another 40 winks or so until he arrives. One of the boys, Steve Baxter, is sick and is observed hanging over the rail.
Around 12:00 NOON, John and Hank are observed paddling down the Rideau towards us in the spare blue canoe using the spare heavy-as-hell beaver tail paddles.
Again everyone is happy to see their comrades once again.
John explained that he was late due to his making the arrangements to park our canoes in the back of the Centennial Bldg. in Ottawa which is right beside the canal. On the opposite side of the canal across from the Centennial Bldg. is located the new Centre of the Arts Bldg. It is still under construction.
We are roughly ½ hr. paddle from the Centennial Bldg. so everybody is noisy and receiving much attention from bystanders. We are now rapping our paddles against the gunnels of the canoes. John advises us to pull our canoes out of the water about 1/8 of a mile from the Centennial Building as the closer we get to it, the sides of the canal are higher and much harder to scale. So we climb out of the canoes and portage the short remaining distance.
The area now is loaded with tourists. Buses are arriving and departing all the time. People are emerging everywhere. An official limousine escorted by the R.C.M.P. motorcycle detachment has just gone by. The occupants waved to us. They appeared to be from India as they sported turbans.
We have now arrived and lined our canoes in a big horse-shoe formation on the lawn. The paddles were all locked up inside the building for us and our craft were guarded by an official working in the Centennial Bldg.
After roll call is taken, we all wash up and everyone goes his own way. Pretty well everyone stuck together in groups of 4 or 5.
Girls were everywhere in this city. Rideau Street is a large business street. It is on this street that the Centennial Bldg. is located and almost directly across the street north from this building is the famous Chateau Laurier Hotel; one of Ottawa’s finest. I took in a tour of the business section, the Imperial War Museum, a look at the Royal Canadian Mint from the outside only, tour of the Parliament Bldgs. and the Eternal Flame made to commemorate Canada’s Centennial.
The mounted policemen look magnificent in their scarlet uniforms.
These buildings are teeming with people. The floral gardens in and around the Parliament Bldgs. Are beautiful and very well kept as is the rest of the city.
We had a tour of the Mounted Police Barracks (Rockcliffe). People are stopping us and asking all kinds of questions.
We are centrally located and within walking distance from any of the important sights. We all agreed to meet back at the Centennial Bldg. at 6:00 P.M. to depart for our evening’s camp which allowed us over 5 hrs. to tour around.
Gerry Lynch, myself and Benny departed for a restaurant for a rather late lunch, then we decide to go and visit Mike Starr [Member of Parliament for Ontario electoral district]. After very little trouble, we are escorted by an old friend of Ben’s past hundreds of people waiting in line to Mr. Starr’s office and shown in. It is in room 253 South. His secretary advised us that he had left the day before and was back home in Oshawa. So after 15 minutes of talking and looking around his fairly large office, we departed. Our buckskin outfits drew lots of attention.
Lynch and Benny were later interviewed in the Chateau Laurier by a T.V. Station. Also they went to the Ottawa Journal. This is one of the large newspapers here in Ottawa.
After this I joined them and we left heading to the “Mall”, a large enclosed shopping centre, and arrived in time to see our boys walking through a gang of beatniks. Time was a flying and according to the sun it was getting quite late in the afternoon so we decided to head back to the canoes to wait for the crew.
Sharp at 6:00 P.M. a T.V. Crew arrived to see and film our departure. We were given instructions on what to do and all the boys lined up in the canal.
The camera got aboard a cabin cruiser and headed ahead of us about 20 ft. We then were told to race towards him in our canoes.
The whole deal lasted 10 minutes. The cruiser with the camera man docked on the wrong side of the canal and John Brady paddled over to the other side of bring him back across. He was a huge man, very fat and was scared of the canoe as was John with him in it plus all the camera equipment.
After our passenger was delivered, we headed out again under the bridge and towards the 8 locks which we had to portage. The 8 locks were in steps. At these locks we descend 1.90 ft. at a distance of 81 ft. of canal. This is quite a drop. To lock here, I think it would take a couple of hours but by portaging we do it in 10 minutes.
We launched our canoes amongst many large cruisers waiting for the locks to open. We met some people from Toronto in one of the cruisers who said they knew people in Whitby, one being Mr. M. Goreski of Mel Ron Construction.
As we entered the canal again the water started to gain momentum and as it emptied into the Ottawa River we were making real good time. We took one corner very fast and narrowly missed a pillar of a large bridge that spans the Ottawa. Behind us are rapids that also added to the force of the water.
We are now paddling 75 strokes per minute. On our right side we pass a waterfall. On our left side is the province of Quebec with the large factories in Hull, Quebec belching out smoke that can be seen very clearly. The Ottawa River is quite wide and fairly fast. The banks again are high.
As we are further down river approx.. 9 ½ - 10 miles, we observe on our right side John Brady is waving to us to come in from a dock which turns out to be a building which belongs to the New Edinburgh Canoe Club of Ottawa. We were received very well here.
This is a mixed club. The president of the club greeted us and really made us welcome. We all signed the guest book and he then explained to us the history of the club which is over 1 century old. They have a room full of prize trophies here and world titles which they have won. Their canoes are lovely. They have canoes of all size, styles and colours.
We enjoyed swimming, T.V., ping pong and the snack bar. Before the close of the evening, we had purchased everything from the snack bar.
We were asked to spend the evening so we cordially accepted.
We slept on the huge floor of their clubhouse which incidentally is a 4 story deal attached to the mainland by a small bridge.
Some of the boys stayed up to watch to fights on the T.V. here. George Chuvalo lost.
Images: Along Rideau Canal about 1/2 mile from Ottawa; Arrival in Ottawa. In the background are the Parliament Buildings; the Canadian Houses of Parliament.